The immune system is a network system including tissues and organs. The most important and distinct feature of the immune system is to recognize the difference between self and non-self. Self here means the body tissue and non-self are abnormal cells or foreign invaders, such as viruses, bad bacteria, and fungus. Normally, the immune system recognizes the abnormal cells or foreign invaders as non-self and will respond by attacking and destroying them.
Unfortunately, the tricky part with cancer is that cancerous cells arise, grow, and spread from our own body cells through some changes and mutations; therefore, they will become more like body cells. Cancer cells secrete substances covering themselves in a type of capsule in order to hide from the immune system.
Sometimes our immune system can recognize these cancerous cells as abnormal and will respond to destroy them, at other times these cancer cells will slip through our defence system and inhibit the immune system. The goal for cancer immunotherapy is to identify and expose the cancer cells to the immune system so that the immune system can attack and destroy the cancer cells.
In the past few years, cancer immunotherapy researchers have rapidly advanced in trying to understand and discover how the immune system interacts with cancer cells in order to find ways to expose cancer cells to the immune system, or for the immune system to identify and kill the cancer cells.
Currently, research is being conducted to discover: